Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Sorensen, Christine Knupp

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Teaching and Learning


Moral education (Elementary)--United States--Illinois--Case studies


This dissertation studied how a homegrown character education program called the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Students influenced the transformation of a school culture and the student management system. The elementary school that was the focus of the study was selected based on its reputation and its unique characteristics. The program was implemented in 1996 in a large urban elementary school located in the midwestern part of the United States. Case study research was used to conduct the study. A framework for analyzing a school culture was used to gain a deep understanding of the artifacts and creations, values, and basic assumptions that underpin the program. Data were collected by examining relevant documents and conducting site visits and focus group interviews of major stakeholders, including parents, teachers, students, and building administrators. The researcher examined the data for emergent themes that served as the basis for the findings. The findings of the study revealed that the school culture was influenced by the creation of a common language, annual rituals and celebrations, and specific physical characteristics of the building. The values of mutual respect, improved relationships in the school, and an increase in the degree with which students accepted responsibilities for their own actions emerged as important influences. Certain basic assumptions were revealed that contributed to a common psychology or way of thinking in the school, which included a more positive outlook on the nature of children, the empowerment of children and teachers, and the teaching of the program values through curriculum integration. The character education program also influenced the student management system in the following ways: (1) a softer and more tolerant system was created, (2) children were more truthful, (3) children were empowered as problem solvers, (4) a common language improved communication, and (5) teachers modeled cooperation through the incorporation of a discipline partner system.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [231]-239)


xiii, 316 pages




Northern Illinois University

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